Caught Between Fat and Thin: The Pounds Come Off, But the Label Stays

Doll tape measure
I’m always going to be a fat woman. Don’t get me wrong. At five foot three and 135 pounds, I am not, by any useful definition of the word, fat.

But I have been fat. I was fat for many, many years. And for years, I was an ardent advocate of the fat acceptance movement. I actively resisted the idea that there was any point whatsoever to losing weight. I believed that medical statistics on the health effects of obesity were exaggerated at best, part of the cultural conspiracy to make women hate their bodies at worst. I was convinced that I could be just as healthy at 200 pounds (and with the eating and exercise habits that kept me at 200 pounds) as I would be with less weight. And I was convinced that losing weight never, ever worked… or at least, that it worked so rarely it wasn’t worth trying–if there was even any reason for trying.

It wasn’t until my bad knee started getting worse that I saw the writing on the wall, and decided that, given a choice between losing mobility and losing weight, the weight would have to go.

You’d probably think that losing weight would make a person stop thinking of him or herself as fat. And you’d almost certainly think that making a concerted effort to not be fat would make someone abandon the whole idea of fat acceptance. I thought all that myself once… and I was wrong.


Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, Caught Between Fat and Thin: The Pounds Come Off, But the Label Stays. To find out more about how fat acceptance has been both an ally and an enemy in my struggle to love my body — and how I still see the world through the eyes of a fat person, even though I’m not fat anymore — read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Caught Between Fat and Thin: The Pounds Come Off, But the Label Stays

7 thoughts on “Caught Between Fat and Thin: The Pounds Come Off, But the Label Stays

  1. 3

    I love your balance and sense of fairness. That’s why I check your blog regularly ever since I first discovered it through a fellow atheist friend.
    As a man, I never looked down on women who were a little plump. In fact, I thought they usually looked a whole lot more healthy and attractive, if it didn’t go too far.
    I guess some people would say I’m overweight myself, but I don’t feel like I am. At 6′ 5″ and 245 pounds, I eat what I want and have dream cholesterol levels, a result of very good family genes.
    I weigh about what my father weighed at similar ages, and he lived to a healthy 95. I don’t think anyone could honestly call me obese.
    In my 76 years, I haven’t spent so much as an hour in a hospital bed. The only medication I take is a thyroid hormone tablet once a day. The only general anesthetic I’ve ever had to have was for cataract surgery earlier this year. I try to eat healthily, but don’t worry too much about portion sizes. I guess I’m just one of the lucky ones. My poor wife isn’t. She has a constant struggle. Again, it’s the genes.

  2. 5

    Another blinder. I’m grateful for the link to the “Debra’s Just Maintaining” blog in the comments above, because it seems like the position you’re setting out – embracing the good parts of what the FA movement pushes for, while rejecting the denialism – is rather a lonely one at the moment, and it would be good to know about other writers making a similar case.
    (Commenting here rather than there because, well, you know, AlterNet commenters…)

  3. 6

    “Say then, what are things indifferent?”
    “Things that are not in our power.”
    “Say then, what follows?”
    “That things which are not in our power are nothing to me.”
    — The Golden Sayings of Epictetus

  4. 7

    I noticed you said “say, actresses,” as an example of who perpetuates these impossible beauty standards. But what about the sex industry, for example porn stars, the self-same porn stars you often promote?

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